[WATCH] Graffitti stage sit-in at Prime Minister’s office, press locked out of Castille

Graffitti activists stormed the Office of the Prime Minister and occupied the entrance hallway for almost six hours as they demanded the Prime Minister's immediate resignation

Graffitti activists are staging a sit-in protest inside Castille. Activists stormed the building through the side door at 6am. They are calling for the immediate resignation of Joseph Muscat.
Graffitti activists are staging a sit-in protest inside Castille. Activists stormed the building through the side door at 6am. They are calling for the immediate resignation of Joseph Muscat.

Updated at 12.20pm

Activists from the left-wing NGO Moviment Graffitti staged an early morning sit-in in the doorway of the Auberge de Castille.

Banging on their drums and shouting through their megaphone, the activists sat down and chanted ‘mafia, mafia’ and ‘you dance to the beat of criminals’ right at the seat of power - the prime minister’s office.

At 9am, the AFM locked out the press and closed the doors to Castille, locking Graffitti activists inside. The only livestream from inside the Auberge was the NGO’s livestream.

The protest took place at the side entrance to Castille on St Paul's Street.

Police officers were on-site to monitor the spontaneous protest.

Journalists from Maltese and foreign media houses were escorted out of the building and the doors closed
Journalists from Maltese and foreign media houses were escorted out of the building and the doors closed
Police are guarding the side door of the Office of the Prime Minister in Valletta as protestors inside demand the immediate resignation of the Prime Minister
Police are guarding the side door of the Office of the Prime Minister in Valletta as protestors inside demand the immediate resignation of the Prime Minister
Activists stage a sit-in outside Castille in solidarity with Graffitti activists who are inside the Office of the Prime Minister staging a sit-in protest
Activists stage a sit-in outside Castille in solidarity with Graffitti activists who are inside the Office of the Prime Minister staging a sit-in protest

Castille is officially guarded by Armed Forces personnel from the First Regiment.

Police officers were guarding the door from the outside as a small group of activists from other NGOs, including two of Daphne Caruana Galizia's sisters, gathered outside the building calling for the door to be opened.

Activists then sat down in the road and blocked off St Paul's Street, which is a main entrance into Valletta.

The Graffitti protest came to an end around noon when the activists emerged from Castille to applause by those gathered outside.

Graffitti statement

In a statement on Monday, the NGO said that the sit-in represented different groups and individuals who all shared the same concerns, and were all determined to convey one strong clear message. 

“We are asking for Muscat to tender his resignation immediately! But Muscat is not the only scourge that has plagued our country. We are occupying Castille because we are greatly concerned about the dire situation that has engulfed the democratic institutions of our country and because we feel that our country has hit rock bottom in ways unprecedented before. Corruption at the highest political level is not the only disconcerting issue that we are facing as a country- we have now crossed all limits of decency and have woken up to a country which has allowed the political situation to degenerate to an extent that we now find ourselves faced with the political assassination of a journalist,” Moviment Graffitti said. 

The NGO said that despite the turmoil the country has been plunged into, it appeared that not everyone had understood the gravity of the situation. 

“We are blocking Castille because we adamantly believe that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is no longer fit to occupy the office of Prime Minister and his promise to resign in January is simply not enough. Muscat wants to convey a message that everything has been carrying on as normal and that it’s ‘business as usual’,”  the NGO said.

Moviment Graffitti said currently, business, as usual, was not possible while former Chief of Staff Keith Schembri still walked free despite the “ever-growing filth that surrounded him.” It said that Malta could not continue with business as usual while the "corrupt deals" Schembri and former Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi were involved have yet to be properly investigated, adding that normality could not be restored until Joseph Muscat himself was out of office. “Whether he was aware of what was going on around him, the extent of what he knew, whether he was betrayed or if he himself betrayed others - there is one thing we know with certainty - he needs to leave - now.”

“Our demand, along with that of many other people, is that Muscat resigns and makes way at once. With every minute that passes and Muscat remains latched to his seat of power, it is inevitable that the people will start growing even more suspicious that some kind of heinous plot is being conspired behind their backs so that the truth remains buried,” Moviment Graffitti said.

The NGO said that it was the people who elected these individuals into power to represent them and safeguard their interests; adding that it is the duty of politicians to serve the people and not the other way around.

“When the democratic institutions which are there to represent the people become a hub for institutionalised crime, plundering of the taxpayer’s money, corruption at an unprecedented level, collusions and incestuous relationships with big business which have led to an assassination with the only intent to silence the voice of those who dared to reveal the rotten state of affairs that has been kept hidden from us, it is up to the citizens to claim their rights to protest and make their voices heard.” 

Moviment Graffitti said that at this point there was no alternative but for citizens to go out into the streets and make their voices heard “loud and clear.”

“The resignation of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat should be the first step. We will remain here in front of Castille for as long as necessary. We encourage all those who identify with our beliefs to join us, bring along your instruments and make your voices heard. This is the moment that we should all seize. Anyone who dreams of a new Malta, Malta untainted by filthy politics, Malta which provides for everyone’s needs - then we invite you to come here and join us. Castille belongs to the people and it should be returned to the people.”

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